Sunday, March 23, 2008

Shakespeare, Jealousy and “Mrs. Lieutenant”

I’ve just seen the terrific production of “Othello” by the Los Angeles Women’s Shakespeare Company.

The playbill notes of producing artistic director Lisa Wolpe state: “(T)he story is not just about racism, but also classism, sexism – and even heroism.”

She believes Iago’s motivation for what he does to Othello comes from being a working-class career soldier whose deserved promotion goes to someone else who has “advantages of breeding, position, and class, regardless of his inexperience in the field.”

In my opinion, Shakespeare wrote this play about one primary human emotion – jealousy. Shakespeare dramatically portrays how jealousy provokes even leaders of men to easily believe the worse without seeking any contrary opinions.

In my forthcoming novel MRS. LIEUTENANT, jealousy plays an important part in the story of one officer’s wife. While some readers may feel that the denouement of this story line is overly dramatic, I believe the role of literature in certain stories is to grab us by the throat, shake us, and say: “Learn from this and watch what you yourself do.”

The next time you’re jealous of someone, think about Shakespeare’s plays such as “Othello,” “Richard III” and “Macbeth.” Then try to curb the little green-eyed monster we all have within us before you do yourself and others much harm.

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